For some, it’s the official kickoff to summer. It comes out of the starting blocks as the first festival in a very crowded Montreal festival season. May 18th– 20th marked the 8th edition of the little festival that could, Pouzza Fest.
Named after 2 of Montrealer’s favorite foods, this is at its heart a punk music festival. But it does take on other flavors which give it its uniqueness. There’s a softball tournament that pits local music industry members against musicians playing in the fest. An event that always draws a crowd. The weekend mornings start off with punk rock yoga, where musicians lead the gathered crowd through a practice that limbers people up of a long day of rocking out.
This year added a meditation session before the music began. There’s also punk flavored stand-up shows at Theatre Ste-Catherine, if you need to take a break, sit down and have a laugh.
The festival takes over the St-Laurent and St-Catherine area, this year with indoor shows at Foufounes Electriques, Katacombes and Café Cleopatre. The were some acoustic sets at the Midway Speakeasy for those who wanted to sit down with a pint. But the main draw and the headliners are at the outdoor stage, the Beer Garden. This was also the center of family activity. The festival always amazes me for the number of parents who bring their kids to rock out. It’s a heartwarming sight.
Headliners Anti-Flag (Friday), Reel Big Fish and Face to Face (Sunday) all delivered as you would expect from headliners. High energy, raucous and crowd-pleasing sets that capped off the outdoor sets.
The nights still went on ‘til the wee hours indoors, where we saw two of the heaviest sets of the weekend. The Cancer Bats performed their ubiquitous “Hail Destroyer” to a capacity room at Foufs. It was the most animated crowd I saw all weekend. There was another contender though. The same venue saw Montreal legends Barnburner reunite after ceasing to exist a few years back. The band even joked, “we’re Barnburner, we used to be a band but we’re not anymore… well except for tonight.” There were no signs of rust as they sounded in peak form.
Aside from the bands we’ve all seen over and over (and why not see them again!), one of the main attractions of Pouzza Fest is walking around the sites and discovering bands. Following the ap and trying to see as many bands as possible is a bit of a sport, but a well worthwhile endeavor. Some bands you just want to see for their name, like Ellen and the Degenerates, who were great fun, and Bobby’s Oar. Some bands you go to see because the members are making the extra effort and handing out flyers with their set times to passer byes.
One of my favorite revelations was the Anti-Queens, a 4 piece all girl band from Toronto. They were a throwback to the golden days of pop punk, reminding me of fellow Canadians Liveonrelease. I always appreciate a band who you can tell is really having fun on stage.
Another successful edition of this fest is in the books. A great way to start off the summer, having fun, listening to some tunes, drinking some beers and eating greasy food. I’m already looking forward to the 9th edition.
Review – Richard Brunette
Photos – Kieron Yates